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British military reports troop levels remain below stated needs

By Richard Tomkins

May 23 (UPI) -- Britain's Royal Army is continuing to suffer from low troop strength -- 5.1 percent below the number of needed full-time soldiers in April.

British Forces News, quoting Ministry of Defense figures, said the number of full-time soldiers fell to 78,407. The number is 4,000 soldiers short of the government's target of 82,000 active duty soldiers.

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The figure of 82,000 is the number of full-time soldiers the government believes is necessary for the army to operate effectively, though the shortfall has been ongoing for about two years.

Over the past year, 7,340 personnel voluntarily left the service. That figure represents 5.4 percent of all its staff.

"Reasons for leaving the Armed Forces included the impact of service life on family and personal life and opportunities outside," British Forces News quoted an army document as stating.

Overall, the Ministry of Defense is 5.1 percent short of the target figure for full-time Army soldiers. The Royal Air Force is also suffering a 4.8 percent personnel shortage and the Royal Navy has a 2 percent shortfall.

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